As Opening Ceremonies go, the kickstart to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, was a spectacular affair, albeit a freezing one. Wind chills had the temperature in the teens, although a region known for its windy days and nights generally let up on the howling gusts. Nonetheless, each spectator in the temporary Olympic Stadium, which will be torn down after the Games, received a bag full of seat warmers, hand warmers, a blanket as well as a traditional Korean drum and a light to use as spectator involvement, supposedly another effort to keep them warm.
As ceremonies go—and perhaps because of the conditions—this one clocked in on the short side, running about two and a half hours, which seemed about right. It was a pleasant mix of pageantry and pomp. In one particular nice touch, LED lights on each chair were used to display not only the name of the country marching into the ceremony, but also its flag—all displayed in the stands with spectators not having to do a thing to make it happen.
As for the marching, there was a bit of drama this year with the Russian athletes coming in under an Olympic flag and a sign that said, flatly, Olympic Athletes from Russia, the punishment the nation received for systematic doping that marred its own hosting of the last Games in Sochi. The crowd was noticeably quiet when the team entered. But that, of course, was contrasted with the roar that came at the end when South Korea and North Korea entered as one, a development that if nothing else shows the power of one of sports’ most grand events to continually inspire.